Top 10 Faces of the PG Era in WWE: John Cena to Edge

In a move to cater to family and a younger (larger) audience, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), the PG Era began on July 22, 2018. It was characterized by watered-down violence, family-friendly programs (rated PG) and characters, and more scripting. This starkly contrasted with the RA (Ruthless Aggression) Era that preceded it.

A good business decision, the PG era ended in 2013 or 3014, according to WWE. However, the changes have continued since 2008, and WWE programs now feature less profanity, violence, and sexual content while fulfilling the audience’s needs. The first part of this era portrayed fan favorites as superheroes or babyfaces, and there were one-dimensional villains or heels too. However, the period officially ended and gave way to a more reality-based era.

Even a decade since its conclusion, the PG Era in WWE still leaves a mark. From John Cena to Edge, let’s go back to the top 10 faces of the era.

10. Edge

Top 10 Faces of the PG Era in WWE: John Cena to Edge
Adam ‘Edge’ Copeland and John Cena in WWE Rivals (2022)

Edge was one of the best adversaries for John Cena throughout the Ruthless Aggression Era, and his presence in WWE spanned three eras. He was one of the top Attitude Era wrestlers and became a babyface in 2010 due to his huge audience appeal as a heel.

The crowd favorite, Edge, was a heel for much of his career, but his babyface turn was highly celebrated. He won his first Royal Rumble during his debut as a babyface in 2010 and then challenged Chris Jericho for the World Heavyweight Championship, becoming a top babyface.

In the PG Era, Edge broke the record for the most tag team titles reigns in WWE when he won the WWE World Tag Team Championship in 2009 with Chris Jericho. However, Edge retired in 2011 due to injuries and was only prominent in the PG Era for two years. 

9. Sheamus

Top 10 Faces of the PG Era in WWE: John Cena to Edge
Claudio Castagnoli and Sheamus in WWE Survivor Series (2018)

Sheamus was shifted to Monday Night Raw due to his success on the main roster in 2009 and retained his star status since the start of his career in the PG Era. He is another heel-turned-babyface which turned out to be a perfect turn. 

Sheamus’ transition to a babyface occurred when he challenged Mark Henry for being a bully. A perfect heel, Mark made the turn easy for Sheamus, who then went on to become a very entertaining character. 

After beating John Cena in his debut year, Sheamus won his first world title, proving to be a great wrestler. He won the 2010 King of the Ring tournament, the 2012 Royal Rumble match, and the 2015 Money in the Bank, making him the second wrestler to earn all three titles. However, he mostly sticks to tag team matches now due to a degenerative neck issue.

8. Alberto Del Rio

Top 10 Faces of the PG Era in WWE: John Cena to Edge
Alberto Del Rio

Alberto Del Rio was the best heel, but this is precisely what made him a famous face of the PG Era. He won the WWE Championship and the World Heavyweight Championship twice each and is also the only one to win the Royal Rumble and Money in the Bank in the same year.

Alberto, like JBL, had an elite gimmick and look, which made him the perfect villain in WWE. However, he was one the fans respected, and when he saved Ricardo from being attacked by 3MB, the audience started warming up to him. And as his time as a babyface progressed, he perfected this image and had the fans cheering for his good work.

He debuted in WWE in 2010 and became the first Mexican-born world champion in WWE history. In professional wrestling, he is the only man in history to have been WWE, (WWE) World Heavyweight, Impact World, GFW Global, AAA Mega, and CMLL World Heavyweight Champion.

7. CM Punk

Top 10 Faces of the PG Era in WWE: John Cena to Edge
CM Punk

CM Punk was the most prominent star wrestler of the WWE. He is a self-made star and beat John Cena multiple times in the ring, becoming the most popular wrestler of the PG Era. He was the most over babyface before his heel run from mid-2012 to mid-2013.

CM Punk’s hard work and determination made him rise up the ranks to become the world champion five times: World Heavyweight Champion three times and WWE Champion twice. He was an excellent performer in and out of the ring and evolved into the best babyface of WWE, losing the first spot to Cena by a hair’s width. He was the second-most overperformer that the WWE audience had ever seen.

He also is the fastest wrestler to be the Triple Crown Champion (in just 203 days). He is the only back-to-back Money in the Bank winner and was voted Wrestler of the Year in 2011 and 2012 by Pro Wrestling Illustrated. However, he retired from professional wrestling in 2014. He led the development of the Reality Era that began after he left the company in 2014.

6. Dolph Ziggler

Top 10 Faces of the PG Era in WWE: John Cena to Edge
Dolph Ziggler in WWE Super Show-Down (2020)

Dolph Ziggler has entertaining and audience-engaging matches, no matter the win or the loss. With a great sense of humor, he was one of the best faces during the PG Era. His fame was second to none in 2013; however, a concussion restricted him to mid-card titles during the Reality Era.

Dolph Ziggler was initially a member of the Spirit Squad but then appeared as Dolph Ziggler at the beginning of the PG Era. He was initially a heel and then became a babyface. When he cashed in his win at the WWE Money in the Bank, he received the best response from fans and one that the viewers cannot forget.

Even when he was a heel, he got great responses from the audience, and his sharp wit and exaggeration were very entertaining for watchers. He provided entertainment by taking additional risks in the ring and has perfected his technique. He was an underdog that acquired the audience’s approval and cheer.

5. Randy Orton

Top 10 Faces of the PG Era in WWE: John Cena to Edge
Randy Orton and Luis Martinez in WWE Survivor Series (2019)

Randy Orton was one of the other wrestlers to lead in the Ruthless Aggression Era and was a matching rival for John Cena throughout most of the PG Era. He was cheered by the audience even as a heel and became an effective babyface due to his talent. He is the youngest world champion in WWE and has won the world title 14 times.

Though Orton won the world title for the first time during the Ruthless Aggression Era, he remained top during the PG Era. He was an instant fan favorite and shared the top spot on RAW with Cena. His transformation into a babyface happened smoothly, with the NEXUS targeting him and Cena. His upfront ruthless style as a babyface suited him well, and the audience loved him in both his characters.

He won several world titles, including WWE Championship (10 times), WWE’s World Heavyweight Championship (4 times), United States Championship, the 18th overall Grand Slam Champion, and the 17th Triple Crown Champion. He is a two-time Royal Rumble match winner and won the 2013 Money in the Bank ladder match.

4. Daniel Bryan

Top 10 Faces of the PG Era in WWE: John Cena to Edge
Bryan Danielson in WWE Survivor Series (2019)

Daniel Bryan was already famous in the indies before he debuted in WWE in 2009. He won the world title as a heel in 2011 and became the biggest babyface in the Yes Movement in 2013. He was the most popular wrestler by the end of the PG Era. 

Bryan entered the WWE as a part of The Nexus from NXT. But he eventually separated and went on to win the WWE Championship 4 times and also the World Heavyweight Championship.

Fans had him turn into a babyface in WWE. He had an endearing underdog appeal and a pleasant quality about him. Comedy was his strength, and the audience loved him as a strong wrestler and otherwise.

However, he was not booked rightly and faced several losses during the PG Era, affecting his image and popularity. Still, it only created a small dent, as shown by his immense popularity even after taking a three-year break from wrestling. His contributions to WWE led to the creation of the Reality Era.

3. Rey Mysterio

Top 10 Faces of the PG Era in WWE: John Cena to Edge
Rey Mysterio in WWE Survivor Series (2019)

Rey Mysterio was a perfect part of the PG Era with his high-flying style and colorful attires, including stylized masks that made him very bankable for children and adults. The ultimate underdog, he is considered to be one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time. 

Rey is a luchador and was featured on the cover of WWE 2K video games several times during the PG Era. The reception Rey received on returning to WWE and during his special appearances in Royal Rumble 2018 and the Greatest Royal Rumble in Saudi Arabia is evidence of the support from the audience that he has had since the PG Era.

He also won multiple championships like the Cruiserweight Championship thrice, and the World Heavyweight Championship, the Intercontinental Championship, and the United States Championship, each twice. He won the WWE Championship once and the Tag Team Championship four times.

2. Cody Rhodes

Top 10 Faces of the PG Era in WWE: John Cena to Edge
Schuyler Andrews and Cody Rhodes in All Elite Wrestling: Revolution (2021)

Cody Rhodes’ return to WWE as a babyface was a very unexpected move that the audience loved. He is another wrestler who worked as a heel for most of his career, but The Rhodes Brothers’ win against The Hounds of Justice had the fans go crazy.

After his ‘Dashing’ gimmick and mask run, Rhodes had the perfect chance to turn into a babyface, and that is precisely what happened. He teamed up with Goldust, his brother, and Dusty to work against The Shield. 

The storyline of the Rhodes Brothers earning their jobs back after defeating the Hounds of Justice was a great move, and he became one of the biggest babyfaces of WWE. Several considered him the best person to take over from Cena too.

He remained on WWE’s main roster for nine years since 2007, where he later performed under the gimmick Stardust. During his time with WWE, Rhodes became a two-time Intercontinental Champion. He was a prolific tag team wrestler, winning six world tag team championships (three World Tag Team Championships and three WWE Tag Team Championships).

1. John Cena

Top 10 Faces of the PG Era in WWE: John Cena to Edge
John Cena in John Cena Reacts (2017)

John Cena was the face of the Ruthless Aggression Era and PG Era and was the WWE World Champion when the latter began. His streak in WWE rankings was more prolonged than anyone before him.   

With his wholesome attitude and stubbornness to never turn heel, he was the face of two consecutive eras: the RA Era and the PG Era. He was one of the wrestlers who led to the creation of the Ruthless Aggression Era, as in his debut, he volunteered for a challenge after a call for ruthless aggression by the players.

He was a great representative of the PG Era, particularly for the kids, and his identity is synonymous with the era. He was the most requested celebrity in Make a Wish charity, and despite turning part-time for more than two years, he was responsible for very high merchandise sales.

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About WWE

World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., doing business as WWE, is an American professional wrestling promotion. A global integrated media and entertainment company, WWE has also branched out into other fields, including film, American football, and various other business ventures.

WWE shows are sports entertainment, featuring story line-driven, scripted, and partially choreographed matches; though including moves that can put performers at risk of injury, even death, if not performed correctly. It was founded in 1953 as the Capitol Wrestling Corporation and is the largest wrestling promotion in the world. It is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut.

Epic Dope Staff

Epic Dope Staff

Our talented team of Freelance writers - Always on the lookout - pour their energies into a wide range of topics bringing to our audience what they crave - fun up-to-date news, reviews, fan theories and much much more.


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